and rejoice, ye righteous; in the Lord, as before; for this is not a carnal, but spiritual joy, which is here exhorted to, the same as in Philippians 4:4; and "righteous" ones, who are excited to it, are such who are not righteous in appearance only, or in their own conceit, or by the deeds of the law, or in and of themselves; for there is none righteous this way: but who are made righteous by the obedience of Christ, and are righteousness itself in him; under a sense of which grace they live soberly, righteously, and godly; and these have great reason to rejoice and be glad;
and shout for joy all ye that are upright in heart: who have the truth of grace, and the root of the matter in them, oil in the vessels of their hearts, with their lamps; whose faith is unfeigned, whose hope is without hypocrisy, and whose love is without dissimulation; and who worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, and draw nigh to him with true hearts, and call upon him in the simplicity of them; these ought to rejoice, and even shout for joy, because of the grace that is wrought in them, and bestowed upon them, and the glory they shall be partakers of; for both grace and glory are given to these, and no good thing is withheld from them; the end of these upright souls is peace; and when they have done their work, they shall lie down and rest in their beds, and each one shall walk in his uprightness, Psalm 84:11.
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 33
Though this psalm has no title to it, it seems to be a psalm of David, from the style and matter of it; and indeed begins with the same words with which the preceding psalm is ended. Theodoret is of opinion it was written by David as a prophecy concerning Hezekiah, as a song to be sung by the people after the destruction of the Assyrian army.
for praise is comely for the upright; it becomes them; it is their duty; they are bound unto it by the mercies and favours they have received; should they not give praise to God, the stones of the wall would cry out, and rebuke them for their ingratitude: it is beautiful, and looks lovely in them; it is an ornament to them, and is, in the sight of God, of great esteem: it is very acceptable to him, and when grace is in exercise, and their hearts in tune, being sensibly touched and impressed with the goodness of God, it is desirable by them, and is pleasant and delightful to them.
sing unto, him with the psaltery; the name of this instrument is in the Hebrew language "nebel": the account which Josephus (w) gives of this, and of the former, is,
"the harp is extended with ten strings, and is plucked with a quill; the "nabla", or psaltery, has twelve sounds, and is played upon with the fingers;''
some make this and the next to be the same:
and an instrument of ten strings; and read them together thus, "with the psaltery of ten strings": and so the Targum, Septuagint, and other versions (x): but it seems from Josephus that it was not a stringed instrument, but had holes, and those twelve; and besides it is distinguished from the instrument of ten strings, Psalm 92:3; it was in the form of a bottle, from whence it had its name.
(w) Antiqu. l. 7. c. 12. s. 3.((x) Vid. Jarchium in loc. & R. Mosem in Aben Ezra in loc.
play skilfully with a loud voice: either with the quill upon the harp, and the instrument of ten strings; or with the fingers upon the psaltery, at the same time, vocally, and aloud, expressing the new song.
and all his works are done in truth; his works of creation are done in the truth of things, with the utmost exactness and accuracy, and are a wonderful display of his power, wisdom, and goodness: his works of providence are according to the counsel of his own will, and are done in the wisest and best manner; and his work of redemption is a proof of his veracity and faithfulness to his covenant oath and promise; and his work of grace upon the hearts of his people is truth in the inward parts; and which, as he has promised to carry on and finish, he is faithful and will do it; in short, his way of acting both towards the godly and ungodly agrees with his promises to the one and his threatenings to the other, and so is in truth; and the whole of this is a reason why the saints should praise the Lord.
the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord; of the providential goodness of God, of which all creatures partake; and of the special goodness or grace of God manifested in Christ Jesus; it was full of it particularly when Christ was here on earth, who is full of grace and truth; and when the Gospel of the grace of God was preached everywhere by his apostles, according to his order, and appeared to all men; and so it will be especially in the latter day, when multitudes will be called by grace and converted, and when the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord; and still more when it will become a new earth, wherein only righteous men will dwell.
(y) "judicium justum", Gejerus.
and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth: by "the host" of the heavens are meant the angels of heaven, who dwell in the third heaven, and are the militia of it; they are called the heavenly host, Luke 2:13; these are under Jehovah, as their Lord and King, and are the army among whom he does according to his will, 1 Kings 22:19; these attended him whenever he has made any remarkable appearance; and they have been employed by him against his enemies, and in defence of his people, about whom they encamp, 2 Kings 19:35. The sun, moon, and stars, are the host of the next heaven, these are ranged in their proper order by the Lord, and he keeps the muster roll of them, Isaiah 40:26; and these are used by him as his militia; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera, Judges 5:20; and the winged tribe are the host of the lower heaven; and even the lower class of these, as the locusts and grasshoppers, go forth in bands and troops, and encamp in the hedges, and at the command of God pass through and devour whole countries, Proverbs 30:27; and all these are made by "the breath" or "spirit (z) of Jehovah's mouth"; that is, by the Spirit of God, the third Person in the Trinity; a name which is suitable to him who is breathed forth, and proceeds from the Father and the Son, and to whom creation is ascribed, Genesis 1:2; and which is no inconsiderable proof of his deity; and shows that he must be equal to the work of sanctification, which he begins and carries on. Now though the creation of the heavens is attributed to the Word, and the host of them to the Spirit, yet we are not to suppose that one Person took one part, and another Person another part of the creation; but they were all, Father, Word, and Spirit, jointly concerned in the whole.
(z) "spiritu oris ejus", V. L. Gejerus, Michaelis; so Ainsworth.
he layeth up the depth in storehouses; that is, large quantities of water, for which he has his treasure houses, as for the wind, hail and snow, Psalm 135:7; and these are the clouds of heaven above, and the fountains of the great deep below, which the Lord opens and stops at his pleasure; see Genesis 7:11.
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him; which fear and awe design a reverence of the divine Majesty, whose divine perfections are so manifest in the works of creation; and a carefulness not to offend him, into whose hands it must be a fearful thing to fall; and the whole worship of him, which is often in Scripture expressed by the fear of him: and this is to be understood either as what is the duty of all men; for to "fear God, and keep his commandments, is the whole duty of man", Ecclesiastes 12:13; and which is incumbent on all men, in consideration of his being the Creator of them; and the obligation to it is yet more increased through his providential care of them and goodness to them; and still more should be found in them, seeing he will be the Judge of them, and has a despotic and uncontrollable power over them; and what is it that he cannot do, who has done all this before related? though none can fear him aright but such who have the grace of fear put into their hearts by the Spirit of God: or else this may be prophetically said, as what will be in the latter day, when not only the Jews shall fear the Lord and his goodness, Hosea 3:5, but when the fulness of the Gentiles being brought into the church, it shall fear and be enlarged; yea, all nations shall fear the Lord and glorify his name, and come and worship before him, Isaiah 60:5.
he commanded, and it stood fast; every created thing continued in its being; not only all things were produced into being by his all commanding word and power, "nutu Jovis", as Maximus Tyrius speaks (b); but by the same all things are upheld and consist, Hebrews 1:3, Colossians 1:17. The poet (c) uses the same word of God in the creation of things; and is the phrase in Genesis 1:3 admired by Longinus (d): or this may refer to the implantation of the grace of fear in the hearts of his people; for as he speaks life into them in regeneration, commands light to shine in their dark heart, and says to them, when in their blood, Live; so by the mighty power of his word he commands the fear of him in them, and it continues.
(a) "et fuit", Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Gejerus; so Ainsworth. (b) Dissert. 25. (c) "Jussit et extendi campos", &c. Ovid. Metamorph. l. 1. Fab. 1. v. 43. (d) De Sublimi.
he maketh the devices of the people of none effect; the same thing is expressed here as before, in different words, for the further confirmation of it, and that it might be attended to. This is the Lord's doing, he is omniscient, and knows all the secret plots and designs of men; and he is omnipotent, and counteracts them, and confounds them in all their measures; and is faithful to his people, cause, and interest.
the thoughts of his heart to all generations; which, with respect to his own people, are thoughts of peace, grace, and mercy; these are many, and within himself, were very early, even from all eternity, and have their sure and certain effect, Isaiah 14:24; see Proverbs 19:21.
and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance; not Israel only, but the Gentiles also; not all mankind, but a peculiar people, whom the Lord has chosen out of the world to be his possession, and who are his jewels and peculiar treasure; these are happy, being the Lord's portion, and the lot of his inheritance; and he chooses an inheritance for them, adopts and begets them unto it, and makes them meet to be partakers of it.
he beholdeth all the sons of men; the evil and the good; which is contrary to the sense of many wicked men, who imagine he takes no notice of what is done here below; but his eye is upon all, upon all the workers of iniquity, how secret soever they may be; and not only his eye of Providence is upon good men, but his eye of love, grace, and mercy; and he has a special and distinct knowledge of them: agreeably to this are some expressions of Heathen writers; says one (e),
"the eye of God sees all things;''
says another (f),
"there is a great God in heaven who sees all things, and governs.''
(e) , &c. Hesiod. Opera & Dies, l. 1. v. 263. (f) , &c. Sophoclis Electra, v. 174, 175.
he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth; good and bad; and not the nation of Israel only, but the Gentile world, whom in former times he overlooked, but under the Gospel dispensation visits in a way of mercy; by sending his son to die for them, by spreading his Gospel among them, by calling them by his grace, by planting churches in the midst of them, and by continuing his word and ordinances with them.
he considereth all their works; the works of evil men, not only their more open ones, but their more secret ones, and will bring them into judgment; and the works of good men, even their good works, which he will remember and reward in a way of grace.
(g) "simul", Musculus, Gejerus; so Ainsworth. (h) Sept. "sigillatim", V. L.
a mighty man is not delivered by much strength; as Goliath, with his great strength, could not deliver himself out of the hands of David, a stripling; wherefore the mighty man should not glory in his might.
neither shall he deliver any by his great strength; in the time of battle; either by fighting for him, or fleeing with him.
(i) "mendacium", Pagninus, Montanus; "fallax", V. L. (k) Epod. l. 1. Ode 16. ver. 45. Carmin. l. 3. Ode 1. v. 30. "Spem mentita seges", ib. Epist. l. 1. ep. 7. v. 87.
upon them that hope in his mercy; not his absolute mercy, but his special mercy in Christ; which appears in the provision of him as a Saviour, in the mission of him into this world, and redemption by him; and is displayed in regeneration, the pardon of sin, and eternal life: and such that hope in it are they that see themselves miserable creatures, and in need of it; and who are encouraged to hope in it from the plenty and abundance of it in the heart of God; and from the many instances of it among men, and even some the chief of sinners; and they do hope in it for the forgiveness of their sins, and for salvation and eternal glory; and on these the eye of the Lord is, as before,
and to keep them alive in famine; not corporeal, though the Lord does give meat to them that fear him, and sometimes in a miraculous way provides for them; as by sending ravens to feed them, and by increasing the cruse of oil; see Isaiah 41:17; but spiritual, a famine of hearing the word of the Lord; the Lord prepares a place for his church and people in the wilderness, where they are privately nourished with the word and ordinances, and their souls kept alive, Revelation 12:6.
he is our help and our shield; the Lord is the help of his people in time of trouble, when none else is or can be; and he is a present one, and helps right early, and at the best season: and he is their shield, who encompasses them about with his love and favour, and keeps them by his power in the greatest safety; all which encourages their waiting upon him, and expectation of good things from him.
because we have trusted in his holy name; that is, in himself, who is holy, just, and good; and so faithful to every word of promise, to every engagement of his, and therefore to be trusted in: and hence it appears that the joy before spoken of is the joy of faith.